I’d Can That: A Canning Roundup

I'd Can That Roundup

Mason Jar Clipart from Creative Market / Click the photo for the link

Last year was the first year I ever attempted canning. It was actually the first year I ever thought about canning. My boyfriend got me a canner for my birthday (because these are the gift ideas I have nowadays) and a couple weeks before Christmas, I started canning like crazy, making apple and pumpkin butters for my family. That was the problem. I started way too late and became super stressed about the whole thing.

So, this year, I’m going to start a little earlier – making it a little more relaxing and enjoyable, and hopefully giving me time to try a couple new recipes. Luckily, canning recipes have been flooding all the proper social media channels, so there are plenty to choose from. I’m going to share some of my favorites today, in case you are also hoping to get a jump start on canning!

Photo Credit: Aubri / See Kate Sew

Pumpkin Butter / Photo Credit: Aubri / See Kate Sew

Of course I had to start with my favorite – PUMPKIN BUTTER!

I used this recipe from See Kate Sew last year and everyone loved it.

Photo Credit: Jackie / The Beeroness

Stout & Sriracha BBQ Sauce / Photo Credit: Jackie / The Beeroness

I know there are BBQ sauce connoisseurs and I’ll go ahead and tell you that I’m not one of them. However, I do love me a good stout and this Stout & Sriracha BBQ Sauce recipe from The Beeroness looks delicious!

Photo Credit: Annalise / Completely Delicious

Tomato-Basil Marinara / Photo Credit: Annalise / Completely Delicious

Ah, yes. The good ol’ marinara sauce.

This recipe from Completely Delicious is perfect because pretty much everyone uses marinara. I’ve always been a pesto fan, but my boyfriend likes marinara and so I’ll make a creamy marinara which is always yummy. Annalise made this recipe as part of a Canning Week link-up, which is definitely worth checking out.

Photo Credit: Becky / The Vintage Mixer

Maple Apricot Jam / Photo Credit: Becky / The Vintage Mixer

I can already imagine this Maple Apricot Jam from The Vintage Mixer spread atop a piece of freshly toasted bread

Raspberry Jalapeno Jam / Photo Credit: Leela / Rosemarried

Raspberry Jalapeno Jam / Photo Credit: Leela / Rosemarried

I adore jalapeno jam, and this Raspberry Jalapeno Jam from Rosemarried is the perfect twist on that

I can see putting this on top of my bagel and cream cheese in the morning!

Do you love canning? What are some of your favorite canning recipes? Share them in the comments and connect with me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google + and Pinterest! Stay thrifty, my friends.

Yo Momma Monday: Ashley Weeks Cart

yo momma monday

Meet Ashley Weeks Cart, 30, from Southwestern Vermont. She runs Cartwheel Farm with her husband James, and she is mama to two beautiful girls (Addison (Sunny) who will be turning five next month, and Courtland (Kaki) who is two and a half), a super mutt they call Hanna Banana, a puppy named Gladden, a potbelly pig named Penelope (“Penny” for short), a flock of five hens – Bunty, Edwina, Dora, Nemo and Ginger and an angel dog – their beloved three legged dog, Ursa Bear, who lost her life to cancer.

Before Ashley and James were introduced to the world of parenting and farming, they lived in Los Angeles and Ashley attended USC, where she received her MA in Curatorial Practices in the Public Sphere. She also ran a reusable bag business with her sister at the time.

Photo taken by Ashley Weeks Cart

Photo taken by Ashley Weeks Cart. Click the photo for the link.

After Sunny was born, Ashley and James returned to the East Coast to be closer to their families. Both attended College in the Berkshires, so they moved back to Williamstown, MA for the first two years, and that is when they decided that they wanted the rural life. So they bought a farm across the border in the Green Mountain State.

“James’ family had a farm growing up, and we really loved the idea of our daughters learning about where their food comes from and the responsibility and care that comes from owning farm animals and tending a vegetable garden. That was all possible with this little property.”

Photo by Theron Humphrey. Click on the picture for the link.

Taken by Theron Humphrey. Click the photo for the link.

Both Ashley and James are photographers and Ashley does freelance work on the side. Her introduction to photography began when she was just a kid, and would spend hours tooling away with her dad’s Nikon SLR. All of that playing and shooting paid off, because now she connects with her readers through her photography on her blog.

” I have albums of black and white photos of our pets and house growing up that I shot with that camera from back in 70s. It was totally a hobby, but it brought a lot of joy. It wasn’t until after college that I got back in to photography. I was working at another small liberal arts college that allowed me to take one course a semester.

Taken by Ashley Weeks Cart. Click the picture for the link.

Taken by Ashley Weeks Cart. Click the photo for the link.

I took a film photography class, and loved hiding out in the dark room and relearning how to really use a camera. When we moved to California we invested in our first digital SLR, and after our oldest daughter was born, James and I really began to want to better master our camera as we were amassing a slew of baby photos.

When we moved back east, I developed a great relationship with a local professional photographer and she really helped me take my work to the next level. I try to pick up my camera and shoot every single day. I learn something every time I do. Practice practice practice is the best advice I can give. That, and shoot in manual mode. Just do it. Your photos will be world’s better once you get a hang of it.”

Taken by Ashley Weeks Cart. Click the picture for the link

Taken by Ashley Weeks Cart. Click the photo for the link

Ashley started her blog Blog a la Cart when she was still living in LA and was the first of her group to have any children. With James working all day, she felt alone and overwhelmed, and she needed a creative outlet that would get her thinking about more than changing diapers and feedings.

“Honestly, I write about whatever inspires me at the moment – there is no real rhyme or reason to my blog content – that space is ultimately an outlet for me, so I write about and share what is most impacting me at the time. Sometimes is as simple as a room makeover, other times it’s more serious feminist issues that I’m struggling with as a parent/mom.

Taken by James Cart. Click the photo for the link.

Taken by James Cart. Click the photo for the link.

I try not to be influenced or alter my point of view to please anyone but myself since that space was born very much out of a need to better support myself. I love that people share in that space, but it’s ultimately about being true to my voice and story.”

Since Ashley has a full-time job, her photography and blog are both done on the side. They are  creative outlets for her, and while she admits it can be tough balancing family, work, the farm and her creative business, she loves what she creates and is grateful to have both there to supplement their lives.

Taken by Ashley Weeks Cart. Click the photo for the link.

Taken by Ashley Weeks Cart. Click the photo for the link.

“I have a truly amazing partner. I would not be able to do all I do without him in the mix, providing the balance and support that I need. He is the girls’ primary caregiver, and does the lion’s share of the cooking, cleaning, grocery shopping etc. This enables me to work a day job full time, and then come home and spend time with my girls and have meaningful family time, before spending my evenings editing photos for clients or writing content for the blog.

There is no way I would be able to keep everything in balance without James helping carry the weight. I think people don’t consider enough how their choice of life partner will be one of the biggest, most impactful decisions of their entire lives. People want the pretty wedding and storybook romance, but don’t often consider the long term weight of that decision. I feel very lucky to have been able to grow into adulthood with James by my side (we met at his 20th birthday party in college) – we’ve been able to make some huge decisions and changes together and we really compliment and balance each others strengths and weaknesses.”

Penelope. Taken by Ashley Weeks Cart. Click the image for the link

Penelope. Taken by Ashley Weeks Cart. Click the photo for the link

Of all the things her girls have already learned on the farm, she hopes that they will always have a respect for their food and the cycle of life. Both have already experienced the loss of a family pet they cherished and loved and they know where the food on their table comes from.

“We don’t shelter them from this, and they have a very thoughtful and honest perspective on death and life (for their age). I love that they understand that our Thanksgiving turkey comes from a turkey farm and must be killed before we can eat it for dinner. It’s not just some plastic wrapped lump from the grocery aisle.

Taken by Theron Humphrey. Click the image for the link.

Taken by Theron Humphrey. Click the photo for the link.

They know the sweetness and joy of picking blueberries right off the bush. They understand that maple syrup comes from the veins of a maple tree as they themselves have collected the sap and watched it boil down into that sugary delicacy. They’ve hand turned apples to cider. They’ve weeded and sweat and and pulled fresh carrots from the ground. There is something so simple and yet so very important from these lessons that we get to make a part of their everyday.”

Ashley’s best advice for working parents (whether it’s in or outside of the home) is to carve out time for yourself. She likes going to the gym or for a run or a walk once a day. It’s not only good for her physical health, but it’s good for her mental and emotional health as well. She also loves crafting, and shares many tutorials on her blog.

Turning apples into cider. Taken by Ashley Weeks Cart. Click the image for the link.

Turning apples into cider. Taken by Ashley Weeks Cart. Click the photo for the link.

“I have trouble sitting still, so I build in crafts and projects to any free time I may have on a weekend or evening. I love working with my hands, and it’s fun to be able to involve my children in the projects when possible.

Mostly, I would be happy to spend my days knitting and listening to audiobooks – but it’s good to mix it up. I learned to quilt last year, and that is a dangerously wonderful, time-consuming hobby. I hope to be able to do more of it when my children are older – as it also demands a lot of stuff and space (iron, cutting table, sewing machine, etc.) whereas knitting I can keep in my handbag for a down moment waiting at the doctor’s office or pharmacy, etc.”

Photo by Ashley Weeks Cart. Click the photo for the link.

Photo by Ashley Weeks Cart. Click the photo for the link.

In the future, Ashley hopes to expand her photography portfolio and hopes to capture more maternity and childbirth moments. She wants to master tomato growing, to include alpacas or other fiber animals in their farm family so she can spin her own wool and she wants to bake a truly authentic loaf of French bread. Her favorite thing about everything she does is the impact it makes on other people.

“My favorite moments happen when a reader emails me to say that something I’ve written or shared has touched them in some way, either by making them feel not so alone, or validating their feelings, or even getting them to think about something in an entirely new way. Those emails send me over the moon.They bring me so much happiness.

Sugar. Taken by Ashley Weeks Cart. Click the image for the link

Sugar. Taken by Ashley Weeks Cart. Click the photo for the link

And with the photography, I love getting feedback that I’ve captured a client or their family in a way that really represents them. Getting positive feedback on my work keeps me motivated and makes me feel like I am making a difference (however small) in my community.”

And as for the impact she has felt from her children, and life on the farm:

Picking strawberries. Taken by Ashley Weeks Cart. Click the image for the link.

Picking strawberries. Taken by Ashley Weeks Cart. Click the photo for the link.

“There are SO many ways that motherhood has changed me, mostly it has given me deep respect for my own mother and the  mothers around me as I am so acutely, personally aware of the challenges, joys, heartbreak, and perspective that motherhood brings. It’s humbling and inspiring and I am so very grateful everyday that I get to call myself a mother to my little girls. It’s the hardest thing I’ll ever do, yet I am eternally grateful that I get to have this kind of experience and perspective and love in my life.

And the farm has connected me to life beyond my family in really meaningful ways. From the flowers to our vegetable gardens to our chickens, I am tuned in to the life cycles and seasons of life on the farm. I recently read “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle” by Barbara Kingsolver (everyone should read it!) and it has really inspired me and further enforced in me why James and I made the choice to buy this home and raise our girls this way, connected to their food and this place.”

Painting by Rebekka Seale. Click the image for the link.

Painting by Rebekka Seale. Click the image for the link.

You can read Ashley’s blog Blog A La Cart to find out more about raising a family on a farm, and you can also view her portfolio there. And check out her video about life on the farm! If you want to hire Ashley to take your photos, you can e-mail her and you can connect with her on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

If you are an awesome mama or you know one and would like to be featured in this series, don’t be shy! Leave me a comment, e-mail me and connect with me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google + and Pinterest.

Weekly Wishes

One of the hardest things for me to comes to terms with is that I need to understand and set my own limits. I always push myself to do the most that I possibly can in one week, and without fail, I always come up short. Something always comes up and I never have time to do the things I set out to do. Then it dawned on me…what if I set out to do less things and gave 100% to the things I do?

I’ve never picked a word for the year. That always felt a little silly to me, and I never had felt a strong connection to any one wordI saw a lot of bloggers post their word for the year, and thought about what my word would be. Then it hit me: simplify. Simplify my schedule, simplify my house, simplify my routine, simplify my life.

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This is a simple list of what I hope to achieve this week. I stuck to what was most important to me at the moment, and will build from there.

  • Set up Heather as a partner on my blog – I made the difficult decision to put a hold on Baby Burrito Collective right now. As part of my attempt to simplify my life, I took a step back and realized that I was putting a lot of time and money into something and I wasn’t getting what I wanted out of it. I had one member and she stuck with me through all the changes. I still want to help her promote her work, so Heather is now going to be my very first partner on my blog! There will be more about her later, but I need to get her added first!
  • Finish my cork board – It’s so close to being done! I just need to staple on the fabric, and attach the back! Can’t wait to hang that beauty up, and finally use it!
  • Write on my blog daily – I have decided to not blog on the weekends, but I would like to post something once a day during the week.
  • Start my coffee can planter project – I have been given the wonderful opportunity to contribute to Childhood Magazine in Sacramento, and this is the project I am writing about! I just need to get a few supplies and I hope to have it done by this weekend.
  • Make one recipe from scratch – I don’t really make boxed anything, but I do use store-bought pasta, bread and tortillas (for now), and I don’t see any chance of me making cheese in the near future. So when I say from scratch, I mean all the way. We need a healthy treat in the house so I’m thinking of making some cookies this week.
  • Practice yoga once – Since I haven’t been able to get a yoga routine down, I’m challenging myself to at least get in one practice. If I do more, great. But I need to do it at least once. I can already feel my body tightening up a lot more, and my stress level getting higher.
  • Update products on Sweet MariposaI just need to take more photos of what Kandyce made and list them individually.

Do you set goals for the week? If so, what are they? Join the Weekly Wishes link-up at Nectar Collective and connect with me on Facebook, Twitter, Google +, Instagram and Pinterest to share and motivate each other!

Interview with Ashley Lynch

Image belongs to Ashley Lynch

Image belongs to Ashley Lynch

Last week, I wrote about a new website I found with plenty of healthy recipe and workout inspirations, Whole Foods…New Body. Well, I was able to catch up with Ashley Lynch, the author of the blog, and I asked her some questions about her daily routine and how she gets inspiration for her recipes and workouts.

I’m always interested in seeing how fellow moms fit in working out and cooking on a daily basis when they have little ones running around and it always gives me new ideas for developing new healthy habits (and hopefully getting rid of the bad ones).

Did you want to be a Nurse when you were growing up? What motivated you to follow that career? Growing up, I always knew I wanted to be in the medical profession.  I always loved the thought of being able to take care of others. I could not be more glad that nursing is the profession I chose to pursue. There is nothing better than knowing you made a difference in someone’s life.

How do you manage being both a Nurse and a stay-at-home mom? I knew that when I had children…I wanted to stay at home and take care of them. Luckily, nursing is the perfect career to have because I am allowed to work only a few days a month to keep my license active. I get to stay at home with my babies and still spend a few days a month taking care of patients and maintaining my skills. This is the perfect set up for me right now and I know once my babies are in school…I can easily go back to working full time.

Have you always been interested in health and fitness? I haven’t always been interested in health and fitness. Of course I have always cared about health (being a nurse) but I wouldn’t say that I applied that knowledge to my own life until I had children. I guess I realized at that time that I need to step it up and start paying attention to what foods I put in their body. It wasn’t until January of this year that I really starting caring what I put in my own body and starting adding fitness into my life.

Funny how our children usually make us start looking at what we’re eating, huh? I felt the same way when I realized I would be the vessel through which my baby would get food. If she was eating poorly, that would be my fault. That’s when I decided that we needed to change our eating habits now.

Image belongs to Ashley Lynch

Image belongs to Ashley Lynch

 

With all the diets out there, why did you choose clean eating? I chose clean eating because I was tired of “dieting” and I wanted to way of eating that made sense. It makes sense to me to eat REAL, unprocessed foods. I know that this is the way I will eat the rest of my life. I don’t want to ever go back to putting a ton of chemicals and processed foods into my body. I love the way I feel and I don’t think I will ever give that up!

Did you come up with your recipes or do you find inspiration in other sites? I actually do both. I am addicted to Pinterest and healthy living blogs! I make a TON of recipes from others and that inspires me to get creative and come up with my own recipes. It is actually a lot of fun for me and I LOVE to cook!

What are your favorite Clean Eating resource sites? I love “The Gracious Pantry,” “He and She Eat Clean,” &  The “EatCleanDiet” website, Those are all of the sites that helped me start out with eating clean and figuring out what it was all about.

Those are all the same websites I use! I’m in love with The Gracious Pantry but I’ve used recipes from He and She Eat Clean and EatCleanDiet before.

Are you the cook in your household or does everyone help? I am definitely the “cook” in my household. My husband works a lot so I definitely do all the cooking. He is great at grilling though…that is definitely more his territory!

How do your children like your meals? (I see that your daughter is a fan of the zucchini bread, which I need to try!) My husband is a HUGE fan of my cooking. He is always brave enough to try anything that I give him and almost always loves it. My kids are pretty good about eating whatever I give them. They both love fruit and I have found creative ways to get them to eat veggies. My 18 month old loves avocado, beans and bread. I just put whatever I make in front of them and try not to pressure them to eat it. My motto is that if they are hungry…they will eat. I want them to learn to eat when they are hungry and stop when they are full.

What are your favorite workout sites and why? I love Bikini Body Mommy. She was a huge motivation for me to start working out. I actually just completed my 2nd Bikini Body Mommy 90 day challenge. I also love Beachbody workouts. My favorites are Focus T25, Chalean Extreme and Turbofire. Pinterest also has a lot of great, quick workouts to mix in.

Image belongs to Ashley Lynch

Image belongs to Ashley Lynch

Do you involve your kids in your workouts? My 4 year old loves to workout with me! She is pretty tough! She almost always right by my side while I am working out.

Favorite workout gear? Favorite workout gear would be my neoprene weights, Asics tennis shoes, Champion sports bra, and Mossimo yoga crops.

Any advice for stay-at-home moms trying to eat healthy and workout every day? My advice would be to make it a priority. Find a time to workout that works for you and stick with it at least 6 days a week. My time is when I lay my 18 month old down for his morning nap. I know that is workout time. No excuses. For healthy eating….READ, READ, READ! Follow healthy living blogs and get ideas for snacks and meals and just do it!! Start slow, fill your house with healthy food and throw out all the junk! If you only have healthy food in your house….that is what you will eat!

I am a firm believer in finding a workout time and sticking with it! I have such a hard time with it, but when I don’t do it, I feel crappy. Setting times helps you stay on track, for sure. I also agree with starting slow and replenishing your pantry and fridge with good stuff!

Image belongs to Ashley Lynch

Image belongs to Ashley Lynch

Any projects you are working on that you would like to share? Since I just finished my 90 day challenge…I am starting out with a whole new fitness regimen. I am really excited about starting something new. Stay tuned for details! 😉

What motivates you every day? What motivates me is the way I feel. I feel great and I don’t want to start feeling lethargic again! I also like putting on clothes and feeling good about myself. I used to try on a million different outfits and leave the house in tears. I don’t want to EVER go back to that again!

If you choose to have a cheat meal, what do you normally go for? My cheat meal is almost always sushi and frozen yogurt or ice cream!

This was a really good interview and I loved reading all of her tips and advice for maintaining a healthy lifestyle! You can visit her blog at Whole Foods…New Body and you can find her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram.

Who inspires you to keep living healthy? Whether they motivate you to eat better or workout more, I would love to know! Share in the comments and on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram with the hashtag #healthmotivator and maybe I can score an interview with them, too! Check out my Pinterest for more healthy inspiration!